Officials lukewarm on new evidence   

    Officials lukewarm on new evidence
    Sheena Morris

    BRADENTON BEACH – Kelly Osborn’s claims that her daughter did not commit suicide and was murdered – possibly by her fiancé – are unlikely to be revisited, according to local officials.

    Osborn has released a report by her private investigative team, Pensacola-based Forensic Pieces, concluding that photos of Sheena Morris taken after her 2009 death in a hotel room indicate that she was placed in a chair after she died, then hung in a shower from her dog’s leash in a staged suicide.

    Marks on her lower back match the pattern in a wicker chair visible in a photo of the hotel room taken after her death, according to investigator Jan Johnson, who said the marks were caused by lividity, a process in which blood pools in the body after the heart stops pumping at death.

    The 12th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office forwarded the report to the Bradenton Beach Police Department (BBPD) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for review, Assistant State Attorney Art Brown said.

    “Any investigation that they do, we will review,” he said.

    “I didn’t see anything new,” said BBPD Det. Sgt. Len Diaz, who investigated the case in 2009, determining that Morris’ death was a suicide.

    “I agree with Dr. Vega,” the District 12 medical examiner, he said, adding that he does not plan to reinvestigate the case based on the photograph.

    “You can look at a picture like you look at a cloud and see a puppy,” he said.

    Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Russell Vega’s office is not reconsidering the case either, a spokeswoman said.

    The marks were not detected in the autopsy, according to Vega’s written response to the report, which notes the marks were likely made by seams and creases in Morris’ clothing, not the chair.

    “In the photo of interest, the elastic waistband pattern is crisp and clear and appropriately positioned to have developed while the body was hanging in the shower,” the report states, noting that photos of her sweatshirt and undershirt are not available for comparison to the marks.

    The report also notes that the photo of the chair and Morris’ back were taken from different angles, and “the difference in perspective of the photos only serves to exclude the chair as having caused the lividity pattern.

    “In summary, we strongly disagree with the conclusions that, based on the lividity pattern, either 1) the pattern must have been caused by the chair; 2) the body must have been moved to the hanging position after the pattern developed, or 3) both.”

    “It’s right there in front of everyone’s eyes and they’re turning a blind eye,” Osborn said. “It’s devastating.”

    But she does not intend to give up, she said.

    “There’s no way they’re going to keep shutting me down. Come hell or high water, I will make sure it goes to a grand jury,” Osborn said, “even if I have to get a statewide prosecutor.”

    The FDLE did not return calls seeking comment.

    Morris, 22, was found dead by police on Jan. 1, 2009 after BridgeWalk hotel staff heard dogs barking and called for assistance in evicting her.

    Police had been called to the hotel about 12 hours earlier after an argument between Morris and her fiancé, Joseph Genoese, who left before police arrived.

    He was not charged with any crime, and has repeatedly denied any involvement in Morris’ death.

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